Climate change has been described as the long term alteration of weather patterns and their statistical distribution over a period of time. Weather patterns are never static, but experience variations from time to time. So, why should the world be concerned about climate change? Scientists have found out that these changes have been happening on a global scale, and at ranges above the normal variations. Studies have shown that the phenomenon results from contribution by both natural factors and human activities. Climate has now been considered one of the biggest challenges facing humanity and planet earth (Parry & IPCC, 2007). Burning of fossil fuel is a major human activity that has been considered to have major contribution to the variation in global climate (Storad, 2007).
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Scientific studies have been conducted to ascertain the reasons behind the changes in the climate. The main cause has been found to be carbon dioxide gas. It was discovered that other gases within the atmosphere, in addition to dust and water vapor, also play a part towards the changes that have been experienced; but carbon dioxide ranks as the number one contributor to the changes. Before the connection between carbon dioxide and the fossil fuels is discussed, it would be important to know how the gas impacts on weather patterns. A critical fact to note is that the gas is classified as a green house gas. These are gases within the earth's atmosphere that allow solar radiation and heat energy to pass through, absorbing energy some of the energy (Parry & IPCC, 2007). Green house gases however, do not allow significant amounts of the heat energy radiated back from the earth, to pass through into the outer space. As a result, more heat remains within the atmosphere with the gases absorbing significant amount of the heat energy, and subsequently leading to a rise in global temperatures (IPCC, 2007).
As a major green house gas, carbon dioxide's presence within the atmosphere is note worthy. Considerable increase in proportion of carbon dioxide would translate to proportional increases in the global temperatures. Since the early 19th century, the average temperature of the globe has been found to have risen by an estimated 20F; not at all a trivial proportion. At the same period of time, the amount of carbon dioxide within the atmosphere was discovered to have risen by 30% (Parry & IPCC, 2007). This staggering amount was postulated to have played a major role in the temperature rise. What could have caused such a substantial rise in global carbon dioxide composition? Scientists posed this question with the knowledge that, at the back of the answer, lay the reason behind climate change.
Energy is a vital and necessary factor for any form of human development. Much of the progress made around the world since the 19th century has been majorly attributed to the use of fossil fuels. These fuels are coal, oil and gas. Carbon is an element that is present in all living things. Fossil fuels being made up form dead organic matter are basically mainly composed of carbon (Storad, 2007). Being made up of carbon as a major component, the burning of these fuels during their use releases carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Not much of this knowledge was taken into consideration during this time until the late 20th century, when some changes became evident. Environmental concerns had by this time become crucial due to high pollution rates, with recognition of the negative impacts these had on human health and the environment.
Taking into account the large and wide scale use of these fuels around the world, scientists have revealed that these fuels are the major contributors of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. It is however, not the only green house gas emitted from the use of these fuels. Other green house gases found to emanate from these fuels include nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide (Storad, 2007). These too have great potency in trapping of heat within the atmosphere. Other human activities release carbon dioxide and other green house gases into the atmosphere especially the destruction and burning of forests. These anthropogenic activities are also significant to a lesser extent in comparison to the burning of fossil fuels. Adding insult to injury is a phrase that may be applied in describing their effect on the issue, as they only compound to the effect resulting from using these fuels.
Fossil fuels are by far the main source of energy around the globe. These non renewable energy resources are used to meet about 85% of the total global energy demands (Storad, 2007). Renewable sources of energy such as hydroelectricity, nuclear power and wind energy, do not release harmful emissions of greenhouse gases into the air, but they currently account for little of the total global energy. Burning of fossil fuels has released large deposits of carbon from the earth's crust that would not have found their way into the atmosphere. About 22 billion tonnes of the gas are released every year from using these fuels; with the US and China being the largest emitters (Storad, 2007).
Natural processes of such as photosynthesis and ocean activities have been estimated to absorb up to half of this amount, leaving behind a net rise of the global carbon dioxide of about 11 billion tonnes per annum (IPCC, 2007). Similar rises in other green house gases emitted from these fuels have also been recorded. Amounts of carbon and other green house gases are predicted to keep on rising as the world heavily relies on these fuels, exacerbating the climate change problem. The burning of fossil fuels has been found to be the leading cause of climate change as seen through the discussion. Human activities have been found to be of major contribution towards this global challenge as compared to natural factors. Burning of fossil fuels as source of energy is the human activity that has had profound impact on climate change. I definitely agree with the statement; climate change has had much of the contributing factors from the burning of fossil fuels.
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